Vinkel is a little Wood Owl that lives at the Dullstroom Bird of Prey and Rehabilitation Centre. When he was a little chick he fell out of his nest. Well-meaning humans picked him up and tried to hand-raise him, feeding him a mix of minced meat and – shockingly – cotton wool; a horribly incorrect tip they found on the internet, supposedly meant to simulate the hair and feathers that owls normally ingest and then regurgitate as owl pellets. As a result, little Vinkel’s growth was stunted and he imprinted on humans, meaning that he can never be released into the wild – thankfully he made it to Dullstroom in time for his life to be saved. I think it is also necessary to mention at this point that any little bird found out of its nest is best returned to it or as close as can be to its parents if at all possible – it is not true that the parent birds, of any species, will reject a chick because it “smells” of human.
As a registered NGO receiving no government support, the Dullstroom Bird of Prey and Rehabilitation Centre relies heavily on donors, sponsors and the visiting public to fund their very important work. Their tiny staff compliment is responsible for the rehabilitation of between 80 and 200 birds of prey every year, all of them injured by or negatively impacted in another way by humans, and then releasing them back into the wild when they’ve recovered sufficiently. If you can’t visit them in person, please visit their website and, if you are able to, assist them in their efforts by making a donation (monetary or in kind).